Recalling his father's 1992 defeat in a three-way race, George W. Bush yesterday urged Patrick J. Buchanan to remain a Republican and not bolt to a Reform Party presidential bid.
"I need every vote I can get," he said.
Bush said he disagreed with the conservative commentator's views in his new book, "A Republic, Not an Empire" that Nazi Germany was not a threat to the United States after 1940. But he did not join his GOP rivals in attacking Buchanan for expressing the viewpoint.
For his part, Buchanan yesterday accused those rivals of "piling on me" in their criticism of his views about Nazi Germany.
In a detailed statement, Buchanan argued that "liberal interventionism," not isolationism, spawned Adolf Hitler's fascism. "While the West is busy erecting Holocaust museums, it has failed to study the history that produced it," he said.
"Today, the United States is handing out war guarantees all over Eastern Europe, guarantees a future generation of Americans may refuse to honor, guarantees that are driving a defeated, demoralized, divided and democratic Russia, with 20,000 nuclear weapons, straight into the arms of a Chinese Communist."
He said the book was written to prevent "that cataclysm."
"As for my Republican rivals, opportunistically piling on me, to the giddy applause of the establishment, do you really think you will be spared should you also violate the norm of political correctness and speak the truth to power?"
John McCain, Elizabeth Dole and Steve Forbes have sharply criticized Buchanan's writings. McCain said Republicans should welcome Buchanan's departure from the party.
But Bush said in an interview yesterday that he wants Buchanan to remain Republican, though he disagreed with his opinion that Germany was not a threat to the United States after 1940.
Buchanan, a three-time presidential candidate, is on the brink of dropping out of the GOP race to seek the Reform Party nomination. Republicans worry he could siphon votes from the GOP nominee.
"I don't want Pat Buchanan to leave the party," Bush said. "I think it's important, should I be the nominee, to unite the Republican Party. I'm going to need every vote I can get among Republicans to win the election."
He said Buchanan "inflicted a few" wounds to his father's reelection campaign with a strong showing in the 1992 New Hampshire primary. And he agreed that Reform Party founder Ross Perot's general election campaign had an impact on the 1992 race, which ended his father's presidency. Perot drew 19 percent, Bush 37 percent, and Bill Clinton won with 43 percent.
Yet the younger Bush refused to speculate about Buchanan's impact in 2000. "I think it's too early to judge," he said.